Government borrows more than expected in October pushed up by uprated benefits and cost-of-living

Chancellor Jeremy Hunt Credit: PA

Government borrowing was higher than expected in October, largely pushed up by uprated benefits and cost-of-living payments, according to official figures.

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) said public sector net borrowing stood at £14.9 billion last month, £4.4 billion more than a year earlier and the second-highest October borrowing since monthly records began in 1993.

It was more than the £13.7 billion expected by the UK’s fiscal watchdog, the Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR), marking the first time it has overshot the official forecasts this financial year.

The ONS said financial year-to-date borrowing stood at £98.3 billion, £21.9 billion more than a year earlier, but less than the £115.2 billion forecast by the OBR in March 2023.

Chancellor Jeremy Hunt said: “We met our pledge to halve inflation, but we must keep on supporting the Bank of England to drive inflation down to 2%.

“That means being responsible with the nation’s finances. At my autumn statement tomorrow, I will focus on how we boost business investment and get people back into work to deliver the growth our country needs.”

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